A former deputy and acting CIA director told lawmakers on Tuesday that Islamic State group’s recruitment has exploded under President Obama’s watch.
Michael Morell told the House Armed Services Committee that ISIS” has gained affiliates faster than al-Qaida ever did.” He said 20 countries now have terror affiliates that pledged allegiance to ISIS since last year, up from almost “nothing” last year.
“Let me start with the bottom line. I believe ISIS poses a significant strategic and lethal threat to the United States of America,” said Morell, Fox News reported. “The nature and the significance of the threat posed by ISIS flows from the fact that ISIS is at the same time a terrorist group, a quasi-state, and a revolutionary political movement. We have not faced the likes of it before.”
The former White House official warned:
- Thousands of ISIS sympathizers are now in the U.S.
- The FBI has over 900 open investigations into homegrown extremists.
- ISIS is “almost certainly” planning mass-casualty attacks in the U.S.
- ISIS now earns “more in taxes than oil sales.”
- ISIS affiliates are changing focus from local grievances to the pursuit of a global caliphate.
Morell said he “would not be surprised if we woke up one morning and ISIS in Libya had grabbed a large part of Libyan territory – the same kind of blitzkieg, on a smaller scale, than we saw in Iraq.”
The grim assessment came just weeks after Obama blamed concern over ISIS attacks on media coverage.
“If you’ve been watching television for the last month, all you have been seeing, all you have been hearing about is these guys with masks or black flags who are potentially coming to get you,” Obama told National Public Radio Dec. 21, WND reported.
A CNN/ORC poll released Dec. 28 showed Americans have lost confidence in Obama’s ability to “degrade and destroy” ISIS.
The survey concluded:
- 18 percent of Americans say the U.S. is winning its battle against Islamic terror networks.
- 40 percent say the U.S. is at a stalemate with Islamic radicals.
- 59 percent of Democrats are uneasy with Obama’s attempts to keep America safe from terrorists.
- 79 percent of independents are unhappy with the president’s anti-terrorism approach.
- 17 percent of Americans have a great deal of confidence in Obama’s ability to protect the nation.
“Americans are very nervous about the possibility of another terror attack in the U.S. after what happened in Paris and San Bernardino. It appears as though the public has simply lost confidence in the Obama administration’s ability to stop a terrorist attack and defeat ISIS,” CNN’s Jim Acosta said when the results aired, WND reported.
An ISIS attack in Paris, France, on Nov. 13 killed 129 and injured more than 350.
Muslim radicals Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife Tashfeen Malik, 27, killed 14 and wounded 21 in San Bernardino, California, Dec. 2. Malik had pledged allegiance to ISIS.
President Obama plans to discuss his strategy for defeating ISIS during his final State of the Union address Tuesday night.